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Oct 02 2018

German politicians alarmed by extremist greetings at Erdoğan mosque opening

Germany’s politicians have expressed concern on Monday about the use of extremist greetings during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's opening of Germany's largest mosque last month questioning the role of the religious organisation which runs the house of worship, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

The Turkish strongman was greeted by the Grey Wolves (Bozkurt) hand sign - which is meant to look like a wolf and is associated with an ultranationalist group described as the armed wing of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) whose members have played a significant role in voting Erdogan into power - when he arrived in Cologne to open a mosque run by DITIB, a Turkish-Germanic Islamic organisation funded by Ankara.

Anyone who had seen the disturbing images of right-wing extremists in Chemnitz could not remain silent, even if the extremists were in a minority, DW quoted Integration Minister Serap Güler as telling Deutschlandfunk.

Güler noted the DITIB must decide if it wants to operate as a political organization or occupy itself with the religious concerns of local Muslims.

The minister added that the four-fingered "Rabia" greeting of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Erdogan used upon arrival in Berlin, was also a cause for concern.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD)'s parliamentary spokesman for internal affairs Burkhard Lischka told the Welt newspaper on Monday

There were "significant indications that DITIB was compliant in spying on Turkish dissidents in our country," the Social Democratic Party (SPD)'s parliamentary spokesman for internal affairs Burkhard Lischka is quoted as telling the Welt newspaper on Monday. Lischka called for an investigation which could include surveillance of the association by German authorities.

If DITIB was not a religious organization but the "political arm of an autocratic state president, spying on Erdogan's opponents and critics, it can hardly also be our partner," Lischka's CDU counterpart, Mathias Middelberg added.